‘Spectres’ gradually transforms from an account of an Egyptian family to an account of the Deir Yassin massacre, as the novel skilfully fuses fact and fiction in its exploration of the Arab world in the 20th century. The two lead characters-Radwa and Shagar act as two parts of the same coin, as they both experience life in post-colonial Egypt, in a world in which identities are being formed and shaped by events taking place in the world around them.
The story constantly shifts between first and third person, between eyewitness accounts of the Deir Yassin massacre which form part of Shagar’s book ‘Spectres’ and a fictional book of the same name which Radwa is writing. The two characters in many ways mirror one another as both seek to challenge the conventions of Egyptian society and the role of women both in Egypt and the wider world. The fusion between narrative styles and characters can, at times, be jarring, yet it works as an effective form of meta-fiction as it only serves to highlight the injustice faced by the various oppressed peoples depicted in the novel, from the Palestinians murdered in Deir Yassin to the Egyptians imprisoned by he autocratic Egyptian state, in many ways ‘Spectres’ acts as a home to people who forever had their voices and lives taken away by the tyranny of others.